A lone star tick is a type of tick that is known for a white star shape on the female's back. It is typically found in outdoor areas of the United States, from the east coast to the state of Texas. A bite from this tick can be very irritating, and it can lead to more serious infections. Carefully removing a lone star tick is important, and this is usually done with tweezers.
The body of a lone star tick is usually brown. It is easily identified by the bright white or silver star shaped mark on the back of the female. Male lone star ticks also have white markings, but these markings are typically streaks.
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Male and female lone star ticks both have round or tear-shaped bodies. They also have eight legs. Mouthparts that are used to feed on an animal's blood can also be seen sticking out of the front of the body.
Like many other types of ticks, the lone star tick is very small. Unless it is engorged with blood, this type of tick is very difficult to see with the naked eye. Typically, a female tick is larger than the male, and she will around 0.25 inch (6.5 millimeters) long. After she has fed on the blood of an animal, however, her body can expand to roughly a 0.5 inch (13 millimeters).
The lone star tick can often be found in wooded areas and in underbrush. This tick species can sometimes be found as far north as the state of Maine in the United States. They can also be found throughout the eastern and central parts of the country, all the way to Texas.
Warm-blooded animals are the primary targets of the lone star tick. They will attach themselves to birds and mammals, including humans, as they pass by. After the tick is on an animal, it will sink its barbed mouthparts into the animal's skin. It will then secrete saliva and begin to suck the host's blood. After a lone star tick has become completely engorged with blood, it will drop off the host, and females will then lay thousands of eggs.
A lone star tick bite can leave a red welt that will usually itch afterward. Scientists have discovered, however, that lone star ticks do not usually infect their hosts with lyme disease. They can infect hosts with a similar, yet less serious, infection known as southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Like lyme disease, this infection can cause headaches, fevers, rashes, and muscle aches. It will usually go away on its own, though.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, on the other hand, is a more serious illness that can be spread by the lone star tick. Symptoms of this condition often include a fever and headaches, along with a splotchy rash around the ankles and wrists. In some cases, this infection can be fatal if not treated right away.